In the days before the Internet, selling a business was a slow but straightforward process: The buyer would drive across town, view the business in person and “kick the tires” before signing on the dotted line. The seller would then sign over real estate deeds, transfer inventory, provide in-person training and hand over the keys. Since the advent of online businesses, however, what used to take weeks now happens in a matter of hours or days.
As soon as you accept an offer on your business, you’re going to be anxious to jump into your next big venture. Savvy buyers often withhold a portion of funds until you finish training them on the nuts and bolts of the business, so your work isn’t over just yet.Sara Paulson, shipping coordinator, Langer Delivery
When businesses change hands, it’s common for the buyer to deposit a portion of the funds into an escrow account and not release them until you hold up your end of the bargain. While it can be scary to give up control of your business before you have the cash in hand, realize that putting the funds into an account controlled by a third party offers protection to both you and the buyer: It ensures the buyer actually comes forth with the funds and that you fulfill the criteria set forth in your agreement (such as business training or the transfer of intellectual property).
If your business earns money from subscriptions, SaaS tools or memberships that automatically renew on a monthly or annual basis, you’ll need to help the buyer gain permission to collect recurring revenue from those clients. Handling this up front can help prevent headaches and service disruptions a month down the road. Instead of living across town, your buyer may live across the country or halfway around the world. And instead of handing over the keys to the building, you’re transferring account passwords, intellectual property and domain names. That’s the beauty of having an online business – you can live virtually anywhere. But distance doesn’t mean you should close the lines of communication after price negotiations are complete.